Cocks in the Hen House: 04.28.10


“Cocks in the Hen House” is a weekly column by friends of the Chicks that aren’t, well, chicks. Stop by every Wednesday to see what the men-folk have to say about the weeks biggest baseball stories.

By Dash Treyhorn (@DashTreyhorn)

Ever get that feeling when you wake up in the morning, and you feel like you aren’t all the way awake? Sure, you’re conscious and all, and you can have a conversation if you absolutely have to, even if it consists of nothing more than a rudimentary system of grunts and groans. But for the most part, you’re still sleeping. In the shower, you’re sleeping. In front of the stove, sleeping. Donning a pair of white socks before you realize that you are wearing black pants, sleeping.

Despite all the goings-on of the morning routine, it still takes about or so later for you to be actually be in the complete and utter state of “up.”

What’s the point of this little prologue? It’s simple. The 2010 Phillies are not yet legally awake. As if you needed me to inform you of this, especially following two losses to the offensively challenged Giants, who have outscored the Phillies 11-3.

But what else do we expect? It’s April, after all, and if there is one thing the Phillies are great at, it’s playing well below expectations baseball for the first month of the season, before collecting their thoughts and putting a hurtin’ on the National League between the months of May and September.

It’s a tale as old as time, really. Like the Prodigal Son or the Twilight saga.

For evidence of such tomfoolery, take a look over the past three seasons of April ball in Philly.

In 2007, the Phillies lost their first three games of the season en route to an 11-14 start. They sent guys named Adam Eaton, Zack Segovia and Freddy “One-Million-Dollar-Winner” Garcia to the hill. They were seven games under .500 at their worst, following a 13 inning loss to the Washington Nationals. Yes, those Washington Nationals.

In 2008, they lost the home opener to the Nationals in an embarrassing “come from behind late in the game to tie it, only to blow it one inning later.” Two days later, they were shutout by Tim Redding, despite a masterful eight innings from Cole Hamels. They lost two of their first three series. Jimmy Rollins injured his ankle in New York and would miss significant time. Fortunately, they won seven of their last ten games to finish with a 15-12 record, their first winning April since 2003.

In 2009, things didn’t start out much better. They lost the home opener to the Atlanta Braves on the same night they raised their 2008 World Champions banner. They lost the second game of the season in another poor outing from the offense. And if not for the ineptitude of the Braves’ bullpen and an incredible rally, they’d have lost the third game, too. Even then, it didn’t get much better. They lost two of three to the San Diego Padres, despite having an opportunity to win all three. Brad Lidge blew his first save since 2007 in an explosive fashion. They dropped two to the Milwaukee Brewers and were nearly no-hit by Dave Bush. They finished the month with an 11-9 record.

Three seasons, three Aprils where the team woefully underperformed. The twist, though, is that all three of these teams would go on to win the division. The latter two went to the World Series. After all, the division is not won in April. Just ask the 2009 Florida Marlins, who began the season with a record of 61-4 or something.

In short, the Phillies are not strangers to the struggles of the month of April. For whatever reason, things never go quite as smooth as they should. Even this season, after an explosive 8-2 start, they have faltered. Some say it’s because they are facing better teams and stronger competition, but anyone who has followed this team for the better part of the last decade knows that there is more to it than that. After all, this is a team that was thoroughly schooled by Kris Benson last week. Hell, even Roy Halladay isn’t immune to the doldrums of April, as he suffered his first loss two days ago at the hands of the light-hitting San Francisco Giants, on the same night that the offense went o-for-11 with RISP.

Things like that just don’t happen to good teams. We expect Roy Halladay to not be perfect all the time, but not on the same night that the offense goes completely cold, despite innumerable chances to capitalize against the opposing pitching that was nearly begging to get lit up.

And much to the chagrin of the Sabermetrics crowd, there is no way to aptly quantify the perennial struggles of the Phillies in April. Granted, the fact that the rotation is in less than stellar, excluding Halladay has something to do with it.

But it’s really only part of a problem that seemingly comes back to haunt the Phillies, without fail, at the beginning of every season.
Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe they are a bit rusty. Or maybe, just maybe, the Phillies are like a prized filly, biding their time by hanging out with the middle of the pack until the time comes to turn it on and lay waste to the rest of the National League.

You don’t know when that moment is. You can’t see it, you can’t hear it. But there is some imperceptible moment when the Fightins…well, go.

And when that happens, all that you can do is hang on to your hat and enjoy the ride.


Dash is a writer for The Fightins and can be found on Twitter here.

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5 Responses

  1. Truth!

    And I wish much more chagrin to the Sabermetrics crowd.

  2. “It’s a tale as old as time, really. Like the Prodigal Son or the Twilight saga.”

    I couldn’t handle this comparison without bursting into laughter. Fantastic points made. It’s hard to watch the Phillies lose when we realize how much they’re capable of, but we can’t forget it’s April and there’s a lot more baseball to be had.
    All I ask is “don’t let the Mets win”, that’s all.

  3. another winner for Dash. What’s it like being the only cock in a hen house?

  4. Are we awake now?

  5. […] Cocks in the Hen House: 04.28.10 […]

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